Higher Learning Research Communications

Digital Object Identifier





Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate faculty and students’ reactions to the COVID-19 emergency move to online classes. The goal was to better inform instructional strategies to be used in similar circumstances and to inform best practices in online pedagogy.

Method: Online surveys were administered to students and faculty near the end of the semester to evaluate different aspects of the transition. Classes included in the study were scheduled as full-semester, on-campus classes but made an emergency switch to online post-spring break, after eight weeks.

Results: Students’ and faculty’s comfort levels at the time of the switch depended on the amount of prior experience they had in online teaching and learning. Individual students and faculty experienced varying degrees of ease of adjustment to the switch in format from in-class to online. Faculty had to adapt quickly to determine the best way to replicate the in-class experience. Many faculty would depend on familiarity with technology and creativity with its usage. To varying degrees, comfort level improved as the semester progressed for both faculty and students. Still, a majority of students expressed less interest than before in taking online classes.

Conclusions: The level of preparedness of faculty and students determined the outcome of this natural experiment. The adjustment was easier for those with prior experience with the online format and/or for those who felt comfortable with the format.

Implication for Practice: As faculty and students prepare to return to the classroom, consideration can be given to best practices in online pedagogy to support students and faculty. Our findings point to the need for institutional preparedness for unforeseen circumstances.